The Indifferent Church
By Dene McGriff
Today's western church ignores prophecy and believes false doctrine at its own peril. Deception lurks at the door. Lukewarm bottoms make for comfy pews. Indifference leads to apostasy and the tar baby of the world system. The church is an anemic, ineffective, but extravagant entertainment center that panders to the needs of its members and dares not to tell them the uncomfortable , inconvenient truth.
Are these the last days? Or will life just march alongas it always has? Should we be concerned at all? Look at the signs of the times. After nearly two thousand years, the Jews are back in the Promised Land and Israel is a cup of trembling to the nations. The United Nations seems to think Israel is the greatest terrorist state on the face of the earth! Recently, the UN Human Rights Council condemned Israel. Wars, famine, earthquakes, freaky weather, nation rising against nation, shortages of food, potable water and oil continue to grow along with a burgeoning world population of 7 billion—but who’s listening to the hoof beats of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse? What will the future be for the billions of new people throughout Asia (China and India), Africa and the Middle East? Are there enough resources in the world left for them?
And what about the church? The church is falling away from the faith, embracing the oneness of humanity, trying to be relevant to a post-Christian world. But do you hear a prophetic message that time is short from the pulpit of churches today? No, the church seeks to expand membership with entertainment and programs, meeting the felt needs of the people, being “seeker friendly,” open and accepting of others and other faiths, opening their souls to contemplative prayer and meditation, discovering the oneness with all mankind, while embracing the “National Religion.” A church that embraces the world and ignores prophecy; a church that ignores one third of the entire Bible; a church that is deaf to God’s message in the last days, while embracing the nonsensical tenets of Preterism where everything-in-prophecy-has-been-fulfilled eschatology; a church that refuses to be the watchman on the wall shouting out the warning – is the church that is going to be absorbed by the world, lose its life and anointing and eventually become fused with the Beast State.
The church that has no prophetic understanding, is a church open to deception. Recent research shows that the majority of the church no longer believes that the Bible is the inspired Word of God. Christians are not sure the Bible is completely accurate and inspired. They believe it probably shares truth with other “sacred books” on an equal basis. Few “Christians” believe the traditional teachings of the faith. They are more likely to pick and choose what they want to believe. The problem in the last days is not some worldwide new age false religion, but a fallen, compromised form of Christianity. I can’t believe the silly things I hear about the Antichrist introducing a new world religion. No, the religion of the Antichrist will be Christian in form and name and the counterfeit will be so good most Christians will be deceived.
Granted, the new Christianity will be more universal and accepting of all religions but this trend has been accelerating for the past 50 years. It is nothing new. The New Age movement has been working its way into the church for years – from the likes of Norman Vincent Peal to Robert Schuller to Rick Warren known as “America’s pastor” and spokesman for the church today. Whether you follow the New Age, or the teachings of the “Word Faith” movement the insidious result is the deification of man. We are gods. God is in us and in everything. That is the ultimate error which will be reaffirmed by the Antichrist as he calls down the dark forces to take up habitation in the human spirit, the ultimate desecration of the real temple of God, the abomination of desolations (Please read Doug’s article: Israel’s Temple Sacrifice and the Abomination of Desolation).
The church today has no power because it pays lip service to the Word of God and has virtually no prophetic vision. The modern view of prophecy takes many forms in the church today. It could be Rick Warren saying that “God says that prophecy is none of our business.” (as quoted on page 285 of “The Purpose Driven Life”), to the “Preterist” position that all prophecy was fulfilled by 70AD, to the Dominionists to the pre-tribulation rapture. Virtually all of these positions negate, minimize or make irrelevant the importance of prophecy to the average Christian. The “none of our business” people would have the church evangelizing and being relevant to today’s culture. The Preterist and Dominionists would have the church being active taking control of society. The pre-tribbers mean well and insist that Jesus will return soon but first the true believers will be caught up to heaven before the tribulation—leaving the Jews to fend for themselves and the so-called “tribulation saints” neither in the Church and or in Christ--somehow saved without the Holy Spirit’s regeneration! None of these positions give the Christian any sense of urgency, calling or purpose when it comes to the end times. I have friends who say it may be several hundred years before the Lord returns. They are into perfecting the bride first, getting her good and ready before the bridegroom can return; helping believers manage their marriages, finances, education, children and being good patriotic folk who care for their country and ready to “let freedom ring!”
The wealthy church in Laodicea thinks she doesn’t need anything and doesn’t realize she is miserable, poor, naked, and blind! The American church is rich and in need of nothing, thinking it is making an impact on the community, reaching out with endless programs to pull together marriages, teens, golfers, the addicted and lonely. It is full of purpose and programs to patch up the lost and hurting. No matter how much they preach people are abandoning the Church in droves! The contrast is amazing—we’ve got our tennis courts next to the slums and think nothing of it!
The majority of the congregation’s commitment is limited to a couple of meetings a week, but the main focus is to make a living and keep hearth and home together. The goal is to be a good Christian, raise the kids right, and maybe do a mission trip or feed the homeless. We may be concerned about the direction the country is taking, the trends in the schools and society, and may be stirred to action now and then. The pastor is careful not to scare the seekers away so he stays positive. He doesn’t want to frighten the congregation so he avoids controversial and unimportant issues—even abortion and gay marriage—just stay away from any controversy: Can’t we all just get along? In most evangelical churches, the people are reassured that their blessed hope is the rapture so even though things may be getting bad, they won’t have to suffer, God forbid. They will be okay, for surely God wouldn’t let His children suffer; I mean, after all: “Go buy gold tried in the fire!” Never happen – God is too merciful and will “keep us from the hour of trial which is to try the whole earth” – I mean, who would or could think that passage in the Revelation means to keep you in the very midst of the Lion’s Den or in the midst of Egypt’s plagues?
Let’s just try and imagine that these really are the “last days” and these are the “beginning of sorrows” as described in Matthew 24:6-8: “And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not troubled; for all[a]these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. 7 For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. And there will be famines, pestilences,[b] and earthquakes in various places. 8 All these are the beginning of sorrows.” And soon things begin to get even worse. “Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and kill you, and you will be hated by all nations for My name’s sake. 10 And then many will be offended, will betray one another, and will hate one another. (Matthew 24:9-10) If things start to get really bad, what will the average Christian think? This can’t really be happening to me. Why am I still here? What did I do to deserve this? We’re supposed to go be with the Lord!
This passage begins with, “Take heed that no one deceives you.” (Verse 5) So when these things begin to happen and Christians are deceived – not expecting it to happen, not recognize it when it does, what does this amount to? Blindness! Deception. The church does not comprehend the prophetic Scriptures. The laity have neither read nor understood them. The clergy have neither read nor grasped them, nor explained their significance to the “laity.” The average Christian is caught up in the good things of life, including the activities and programs of the church but there is a storm approaching and no one seems to care. No one is sounding the warning. Prophecy is considered an arcane and academic study, controversial, complicated and subject to interpretation.
Where is the “Hope of His Coming?”
We discussed these issues in the last article on the “Scoffing Church.” We need to look at prophecy seriously. Why? If the Bible is true (and I believe it is); if the Bible is God’s message to man; if the Bible reveals a plan of redemption to restore man to fellowship with his Maker; if the Bible reveals God’s plan and purpose for man and His creation; if the Bible reveals the titanic struggle between Himself and the great Deceiver; if the Bible tells us about not only the beginning and middle, but the end as well, it would seem to me to be a good idea to pay attention. In Revelation 2 and 3 in the letters to each of the seven churches, it says “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.” If as it is estimated that about a third of the Bible is end time prophecy, dare we ignore it? Didn’t God have a reason for telling us what will happen?
Here is the problem. The church has been waiting 2,000 years for His coming and some of the people who got excited when the Jews returned to the land, feel let down because Jesus hasn’t returned. The study of prophecy doesn’t mean much in the everyday life of today’s Christians. It is a debating point for the professionals but of little practical good for the believer. No wonder the study of prophecy slipped off into obscurity. Those few pastors and teachers who were excited about prophecy and talked about it began to look foolish to their congregations. It became the death knell for the pastor who could be charged with fear mongering, being irrelevant or controversial.
Well meaning Christians down through the centuries tried their best to make sense out of prophecy, they couldn’t possibly understand it given their time and place in history. Can you imagine what it was like to try and interpret end times prophecy two hundred years ago? They came up with all kinds of wrong ideas if for no other reason than it was the wrong place and time.
Prophecy is discredited, dismissed and ignored by Christians of all stripes. Today, as we mentioned, some believe prophecy has all been fulfilled. Others believe the church has to make it happen while others believe the church has to leave. We have dealt with all of these subjects in great detail in other places on this website. The net effect of all of these positions is to minimize the relevance to the average Christian. It creates such a mental conundrum so most of us just give up and hope it will all pan out in the end.
I would submit that the problem with the church today is that it is caught up in the world and blind because it ignores the prophetic Word. It believes false and misleading teachings and has completely failed to take a fresh look at Scripture. And since so many Bible Schools and Seminaries today tend to neutralize error and vindicate intellectual understanding of “all things considered” (i.e., let’s don’t get all excited about our differences—in other words LUKEWARM!) It is the responsibility of each individual to go to the Lord and ask for enlightenment and fresh revelation. But who are we to understand these things? We have become so dependent and trusting of the clergy that we don’t dare question them. Have we spent years studying these issues like they have?
The Age of Deception
Down through the ages Christians have overcome the world, the flesh and the devil by realizing that “this world is not my home. I’m just passing through…” as the old song goes. Life was pretty simple in earlier days. You get up with the sunrise, work hard all day and go to bed when it gets dark. Today life moves at the speed of light. We have texting, twitter, face book, wii, DVRs, cell phones, G3 and G4 compatible devices that allow us to access the internet from anywhere with our computer, blackberry, iPod or cell phone, hundreds of TV channels and tens of millions of websites. We can talk to or text anyone in the world any time we like. We can access almost any movie from “on demand” or choose from several hundred channels, not to mention XM radio or carry a day’s worth of music on an MP3 player the size of the thumb, or view news, finance, weather or travel channels 24 hours a day. It is more difficult to live with a sense of the presence of the Lord, a sense of our eternal purpose and in a community of believers than ever before.
But what does this have to do with indifference in the church? We are so media driven, we demand media filled churches that tantalize every sense, entertain and wow us. Our attention span lasts about 30 seconds. Christian radio and television are filled with programs such as “Focus on the Family,” Minirth Meier Clinic, Family Life Today, TBN, PTL – self help, word faith, healing and miracles. The Christian bookstores are full of the same kind of books – how to fix your relationships, fight addictions, manage your money, or inspirational quasi-new age/Christian books such as “The Shack” and the “Prayer of Jabez”, etc. The tiny section on prophecy comes from establishment authors who spout the old line of the pre-tribulation rapture, the Antichrist comes from Europe, America must be destroyed or it already happened – 99 percent of it wrong or misleading.
We don’t get the truth from our churches, from the press, from Wall Street or our political leaders. Not to be conspiratorial, but it seems that they are all on the same page and no one is telling us the truth. Whose fault is it that we have been led so far astray? Why can’t we “hear what the Spirit is saying to the churches?” Why can’t we hear that still small voice? Why do we disregard the prophetic Scriptures? Why are we so influenced by our Christian “leaders” and their teachings? We are listening to man! Only the Holy Spirit can reveal these things to us. Understanding doesn’t come from man. Revelation and enlightenment, comes from reading His Word and asking Him to open your heart and mind. It comes from putting aside your preconceived ideas and even the things you have been taught. You are responsible. You need to hear His voice – not all of the conflicting voices bombarding you.
We are living in an age of deception, so the true church, those who believe and have received the Lord Jesus into their spirit and have been born anew, will be lulled into complacency. So many glibly say, “Oh I love the Lord and He will take care of me no matter what happens.” Please read Matthew 10:16-22, People who call themselves Christians will be deceived and deliver up their brothers and sisters thinking they are doing God a favor. There will be those who go along with the crowd and those who stand for His testimony, even unto death. It won’t be easy. If we are His sheep, we will recognize the voice of the Shepherd and follow Him. If we listen to the message from the apostate, lukewarm, Laodicean Church, we will be among the deceived.
The Church Doesn’t Get It!
I’ve been reading a couple of books recently. One is entitled The Return of the King, a Prophetic Time-line of End Times Events by Jeff Kluttz. It has some good points and clearly sees the beginning of the Seventieth Week of Daniel and the beginning of the Tribulation with the Treaty of Death and Hell of Daniel 9:27 but that’s about it. He believes the Church raptures, since God can’t allow it to suffer God’s wrath. He doesn’t know who the two witnesses of Revelation 11 are, but speculates they could be Moses and Elijah. He surmises that prophetic Babylon is Babylon (in Iraq) and that the Antichrist sets up his HQ there. He proceeds to describe the one world religion this person creates and tries desperately to make Revelation 17 and 18 fit Iraq. I could have picked any book by Hal Lindsey, Dave Wilkerson, Tim LaHaye, David Jeremiah, David Reagan (just check out the scores of “green apples” on “Who’s Who in Bible Prophecy”) or any other modern day Christian writer. They all teach basically the same thing:
· The Church will be raptured and “tribulation saints” will be raised up to evangelize during the Tribulation.
· The Antichrist will arise from Europe (possibly Rome) or even Iraq where he will rule in great power from the rebuilt city of Babylon.
· America will be destroyed by enemies from the outside (e.g. Russia) or will be devastated by the disappearance of so many millions of Christians leaving business and government in chaos – “caught up” in the rapture!
· All the nations of the world will unite around the one world religion of the Antichrist.
· The two witnesses are two people – like really powerful people with whom the Beast makes WAR against!
whole idea of the rapture as a secret coming of the Lord for the Church is
mainly based on the idea that the church cannot suffer the wrath of God.
Assuming they are correct, they misunderstand the difference between
tribulation and wrath. Please look at a Chapter I wrote on The
Chronology of the Book of Revelation. You will note that the first six
seals of Revelation
6 primarily reflect the rampages of the Antichrist throughout the earth. These
are not God’s judgments. The six trumpets of Revelation
8 and 9 are demonic events that occur as the rebellious angels are cast
from heaven to earth and the resulting damage caused by them. You will notice
that the saints are sealed by God and protected (Revelation
9:4) so the first six trumpets are not God’s judgment. The seventh trumpet
sounds in Revelation
11:11-17 and we see the rapture of the saints and the return of the Lord
(this corresponds with many other verses such as Matthew
24:29-31). After the seventh trumpet the bowls of wrath are poured out in Revelation
16. The pre-trib people are right in one sense. The saints do not suffer
the wrath of God and are taken up just before – they’re just seven years off!
This is all very straightforward. I don’t understand why Christians can’t see
it. The idea that “tribulation saints” will carry the day is insulting to the
church; as if the Church is so impotent that her finest hour escapes her
(no pun intended).
Christian scholars agree that the Antichrist is a ruler of a world power. Doug
Krieger deals with just about every permutation imagined in his 28 chapter book
on the Desolator” (which now includes two additional chapters on the “Assyrian
Antichrist”) This is probably one of the most controversial and studied
subjects in the Bible. Everyone wants to know who the Antichrist is. So, who
is he? Simply put: he is the King
of Babylon, the leader of the most powerful nation in the world. So let’s
get real. That couldn’t be Iraq. There is no way Iraq can be apostate
Christian (it is Muslim), Israel’s best friend, the consumer nation of the
world (Revelation 17) and a great military power. Listen, you can call
Moslem’s “apostates” all day – and they can call Christians apostates all day.
But the truth of the matter is that the New Testament declares APOSTASY to be
none other than a “falling away from the faith” – and it isn’t talking about
the Moslem faith but the Christian faith! There is another prophetic nation in
the last days referred to as “Babylon.” The European Union is not united in
any sense (in fact they boast in their “cultural diversity” – whereas Americans
are the biggest mixing bowl on the planet). The EU is nothing more than a very
loose and poorly organized consortium of countries. What nation could be
Babylon the Great of the Last Days? Whatever it is, the Antichrist is the head
of it and it is the richest, most powerful apostate nation on the earth and
friend of Israel! Any ideas?
3. Before we go looking for some last days
place referred to prophetically as “Babylon,” let’s just say that Christian
scholars have written off America for several reasons. First, it isn’t
mentioned specifically in the Bible (obviously – but neither is Italy as Italy).
Second, Christians, at least American Christians, are convinced that America is
a “Christian” nation that has been mightily used by God. So, we are the good
guys. Third, most are looking to Europe – the so-called Revived Roman Empire.
The most likely suspects are the roughly ten nations of the WEU – the Western
European Union (since that is what is what they say is mentioned in prophecy)
that makes up Western Europe today representing what was the Roman Empire.
Again, there are many theories which Doug Krieger deals with exhaustively
(Please see The
United States of Europe is a Joke.)
4. I don’t know why this is, but most Christian writers think that the Antichrist invents some new “one world” religion, rather than being the head of “Christian-apostate Beast Nation.” They fail to grasp the fact that the Antichrist is such a classic fake; such a good substitute that even Christians will be fooled by him. You don’t have to go far in Christian circles today to find many examples of apostate Christianity parading around as if it were the real thing. First there was Constance Cumbey writing Hidden Dangers of the Rainbow. Then there was David Hunt and TA McMahon. Their 1985 book “The Seduction of Christianity” was a watershed work and Hunt’s 1998 book “Occult Invasion” is a brilliant treatise on the occult in the church. The work has continued with Lighthouse Trails Research which boldly and bravely continues the work of exposing the growing apostasy which has infected most of the churches as well as the Bible Schools and Seminaries of the land. There are others bravely willing to expose the growing Apostasy like Apostasy Watch, Jackie Alnor (Apostasy Alert); Eastern Regional Watch and others “holding forth the Word of Life!”
Dear readers, the problem does not come from some threat without, but from the growing rot within the church. The seat of power of the future world leader known as the Antichrist doesn’t come from Rome, Iraq or Russia but from the most powerful nation on earth. The source of deception and persecution does not come from without – from some new world religion, but from apostate (fallen) Christianity. We’re looking for false religion in all the wrong places! It is right in front of our noses. It’s here, right in our own backyard! Look at the vibrant churches in China, Mongolia, India’s present revival, Indonesia, Africa, Latin America and now even in the heart of Islam, Saudi Arabia – but here in America we are neither cold nor hot…”we have need of nothing!”
what is the last thing the church doesn’t get? They don’t get the “TWO
WITNESSES.” Most Christians just take what has been taught (in this case for
the past 200 years) and keep putting forth the same old doctrines and
teachings. Come on. It isn’t that hard. Why do most insist that they are two
super heroes (such as Moses and Elijah)? As we point out in numerous articles
on the site the two
witnesses are God’s people on the earth – Jews and Christians, his physical
people and his spiritual people. The two witnesses are the two olive trees and
the two lampstands. What is Israel called in Romans
11? An olive tree! And what is the church called in Revelation
2 and 3? Lampstands! And before whom do these Two Witnesses testify? Israel
is a witness to God’s promises and faithfulness to His people – a “testimony”
to Gentile World Powers. After two millennia, the Jews have not only
maintained their identity, but have returned to the Land God originally gave to
Abraham 4,000 years ago; now, all the nations of the earth know that the God of
Israel lives! The Church, the people redeemed by Jesus’ blood and saved by his
life giving Spirit, are witnesses to His love and mercy, His miraculous work in
people who love Him above all else – these testify to the “principalities and
powers in high places” – no, they do not “wrestle against flesh and blood!”
Please note that there are also two groups of 144,000 in Revelation 7 and 14,
the first group are Jews and the second Christians. See Krieger’s “Visions
of Zechariah” and many other articles on our website going into great detail
on this and other prophetic subjects.
If we are living in the last days, then prophecy is written for our generation. This is God reaching down through time and space to specifically talk to us, telling us what will happen and what to do to get ready. The main characteristic of the last days is deception. The church will fall away and turn on real Christians. The church that does not have a prophetic revelation is bound to be deceived. Ninety nine percent are already deceived. What is a Christian without vision to do? Bake brownies for church snacks? Listen to more sermons? Teach Sunday school? Take the kids to soccer and hold the family together? Listen to more sermons? Navigate investments so you don’t lose your retirement? Listen to more sermons? Pay off bills? Mow the lawn? Bake casseroles? Listen to more sermons? Go to church? Go to home meetings? Listen to more sermons? As a brother once said: Ad Nausea, Ad Infinitum!
Your goal may be to escape (by the rapture) or maybe you want to be more culturally relevant so you have become “purpose driven,” contemplative or emergent in your approach. But how many are really living in His presence and listening to what He is saying? What I say is not important. It is what the Holy Spirit wants to say to you that matters. You need to learn to listen to His still small voice. You need to approach the Bible from a fresh and unbiased perspective, free of all the preconceptions and mistaken teachings you hold so dear. If you have read much of my work you know I am not being critical of the many men of God that have gone before. The point is, they were trying their best to understand prophecy but they didn’t have a “need to know” and interpreted Scripture in the context of their time and place in history and came to many wrong conclusions.
Today’s Christians ignore the 800 pound gorilla in the room – the United States – and relegate it to the trash bin of history, not realizing that it is the little horn of Daniel that is dominating the other ten nations (Europe) or ten federated powers on the globe. Only the combination of millions of people from all over the world immigrating to America, along with the rich national resources and the unusual cultural, historic and religious roots that resulted in the richest, most powerful “Christian” nation in the history of man. What folly, Barack Hussein Obama declares “We are no longer a Christ Nation!” But in point of glaring fact, nearly 76% of this country declares some form of Christian faith. No wonder things don’t add up in Washington. To think America will suddenly disappear and be replaced by a rival superpower (that has the economic, military and political power along with the Christian fervor of the religious right) is just plain stupid. Friends and readers, it took hundreds of years to build this empire and it will take many more to bring it down (not counting the Second Coming). America is not an accident of history but the climax of Western civilization. Many American Christians see it as “the city on the hill,” a cup of blessing to the nations and perhaps it was. The issue isn’t what America was, but what it has become and is becoming – that little or “younger” horn …
“I was watching; and the same horn was making war against the saints, and prevailing against them, until the Ancient of Days came, and a judgment was made in favor of the saints of the Most High, and the time came for the saints to possess the kingdom.” (Daniel 7:21)
The fascinating thing is that “unbelievers” are far more interested in prophecy than so-called “Christians” who are either weary of the subject or discount it for the reasons mentioned above. End times’ prophecy energizes the gospel like no other subject because it makes sense of the chaos we see around us. (wars, economic crisis, cultural upheavals, etc.). Prophecy – what God has told us will happen in the final years – gives urgency and relevance to the good news of Jesus Christ. Yes we will see persecution, but we will also see unparalleled revival as people desperately look for answers and shelter from the storm. The greatest need for the saints today is vision, lest we fall into the great deception and perish.
Dene McGriff, Sacramento